Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Son of Efrem Zimbalist, Sr. and Alma Gluck
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About Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (November 30, 1918 – May 2, 2014) was a Golden Globe-winning American actor known for his starring roles in the television series 77 Sunset Strip and The F.B.I. He is also known as recurring character "Dandy Jim Buckley" in the series Maverick and as the voice behind the character Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series and associated spin-offs. He also voiced Doctor Octopus from the Spider-Man 1994 series, and Justin Hammer from the second season of Iron Man 1994.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. was born in New York, New York, the son of famed violinist Efrem Zimbalist, Sr. (1890–1985), born in the southwestern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, and operatic soprano Alma Gluck (1884–1938), who had been born as Reba Feinsohn in Iaşi, Romania.
In 1963 and 1964, Zimbalist joined fellow actors William Lundigan, Chill Wills, and Walter Brennan, in making appearances on behalf of U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the Republican nominee in the campaign against U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Zimbalist attended Yale University in the late 1930s, worked as a page for NBC radio in New York, and served in the army for five years during World War II, where he became friends with Garson Kanin. Following the war, Zimbalist returned to New York and had a stage career as both actor and producer. His producing successes included bringing Gian Carlo Menotti operas to Broadway. In 1956, Zimbalist was put under contract by Warner Brothers and moved to Hollywood.
Zimbalist's first recurring role in a television series was as roguish gambler "Dandy Jim Buckley" on Maverick opposite James Garner in 1957; after five appearances, Zimbalist left in 1958 to play the lead, Stuart "Stu" Bailey, in 77 Sunset Strip, a popular detective series running until 1964. In 1959 he was awarded the Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer – Male". After 77 Sunset Strip, he appeared in other series, including CBS's short-lived The Reporter starring Harry Guardino as a journalist, Danny Taylor of the fictitious New York Globe. He also appeared in leading and supporting roles in several feature films, including Harlow, A Fever in the Blood (a film about a ruthless politician), Wait Until Dark, and Airport 1975.
Zimbalist had a recurring role on his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist's 1980s television detective series, Remington Steele and in the television dramatic series, Hotel.
In 1990, he played the father of Zorro in the (then Christian Broadcasting Network's- aka CBN) Family Channel's remake The New Zorro. Zimbalist relinquished the role after the program's first season due to the filming at studios outside Madrid, Spain, and the role subsequently went to Henry Darrow. He had a small recurring role in the 1990s science fiction TV series Babylon 5 as William Edgars.
Also in the 1990s, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. played Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series as well as in Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Justice League, Static Shock, and the animated films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and villain Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. He has appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and as himself in the 1998 Smithsonian production of Gemstones of America. He performed as he narrator in "Good Morning, America," by Elinor Remick Warren -- Cambria CD #1042 (1993).
Zimbalist has written an autobiography, My Dinner of Herbs, published by Limelight Editions, New York.
In 2008, Efrem appeared in the short film THE DELIVERY, where he plays the professor who helps a young girl in her struggles for literacy. The film won First Place in Fantasy at Dragon*Con Film Festival and was an Official Selection of the Los Angeles International Children's Festival and the Reel Women International Film Festival in 2009.
The F.B.I. television series
Zimbalist was arguably most widely known for his starring role as Inspector Lewis Erskine in the Quinn Martin television production, The F.B.I., premiering on September 19, 1965 and closing with the last episode on September 8, 1974. Zimbalist was generous in his praise of producer Quinn Martin and of his own experience starring in the show. Those who worked with Zimbalist on the show were equally admiring of the star's professionalism and likeable personality.
Star Zimbalist maintained a strong personal relationship with J. Edgar Hoover, who requested technical accuracy for the show, and that agents be portrayed in the best possible light. Actors who played F.B.I. employees were required by Hoover to undergo a background check. Zimbalist passed his background check with ease. He subsequently spent a week in Washington, D.C., where he was interviewed by Hoover, and at the F.B.I. academy in Quantico, Virginia. Hoover and Zimbalist remained mutual admirers for the rest of Hoover's life. Hoover would later hold Zimbalist up as an image role model for F.B.I. employees to emulate in their personal appearance.
The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI Inc. honored the character of Lewis Erskine in 1985 with a set of retired credentials. On June 8, 2009 FBI Director Robert Mueller presented Zimbalist with a plaque of an honorary special agent for his work on the TV series The F.B.I., which he worked on in collaboration with the FBI itself and his friend J. Edgar Hoover.
Personal life and religion
His first wife was Emily McNair who died of cancer in 1950. Zimbalist's second marriage was to Stephanie Spaulding in 1956. She died of lung cancer on February 5, 2007, at the age of 73. Zimbalist is the father of actress Stephanie Zimbalist (by Stephanie Spaulding), Efrem Zimbalist, III, and Nancy Zimbalist (by Emily McNair).
Zimbalist considers himself a man of abiding faith, and has been involved in a number of Christian media productions. His parents, Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., were assimilated non-practicing Jews. Efrem Sr. himself was raised in a non-practicing household and would later state, "As far as I am concerned, there has been no Jew in the family for sixty-five years." Alma and Efrem Sr. had their children baptized in the Episcopal Church and raised them in that faith. Efrem Jr. stated that he was taken to church every Sunday and attended an Episcopal boarding school in New Hampshire. He also attended church every Sunday with his first wife, and it was his faith which allowed him peace that she ascended to heaven when she succumbed to cancer. A spiritual pilgrim, Zimbalist was an early practitioner and proponent of Transcendental Meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He described the Maharishi Yogi as a "fascinating character", but found that his nine-year association with the meditation method "...was a total waste of energy for me." He returned to the Episcopal faith for a time. In the late 1970s, Zimbalist was drawn to the Charismatic Christianity he found on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. After a time, he reconsidered that involvement, telling a reporter in 1989 that "for a while I did go overboard in my association with a fundamentalist group." Eventually, he returned to the Episcopal faith, feeling more comfortable with that particular faith's style.
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.'s Timeline
November 30, 1918
May 2, 2014